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IDEALS    OF    LIFE                        115

The Chinese ideal of happiness was, then, not the "exercise
of one's powers along the lines of their excellence," as was that
of the Greeks, but the enjoyment of this simple rural life,
together with the harmony of social relationships.

The real force of Taoism, especially among the people,
however, consists largely in supplying a world of unknowables,
which Confucian good sense banished from its province of
ideas. It is recorded in the Analects that Confucius seldom
talked about the supernatural and the spirits. Confucianism
offered no hell and no heaven, nor any formula for immortality
of the soul. It solved the problems of human nature, but left
out of consideration the riddle of the universe. It was at a loss
to know even the workings of the human body. In this way, it
left a large loophole in its philosophy, and allowed the popular
mind to disentangle, with the help of Taoistic mysticism, the
mysteries of nature.

The workings of this mind were soon apparent in Huainantse
(178-122 B.C.), who mixed philosophy with a wonderland of
spirits and legerids. Starting out with the dualistic notion of
yin (female) and yang (male) principles, already current in
the period of the Warring Kingdoms, Taoism soon added to
its territory the fairies of the ancient Shantung barbarians,
who dreamed of a fairyland out on the high seas, to which
place the first emperor of Ch'in actually started out with five
hundred boys and virgins to seek his immortality. The hold
on the imagination then became irresistible, and from that
time till the present Taoism has always maintained a firm
foothold on the Chinese people, especially in the T'ang Dynasty,
when it became for a long period the state religion, known as
the Mystic Religion (because the T'ang imperial house had
the same surname as Laotse, Li). In the Wei and Ch'in Dynasties
its vogue was so great as to completely overshadow Confucian-
ism, and the fashion for Taoism became connected with the
first romantic movement of Chinese literature and with the
reaction against Confucian decorum, as it had been trans-
formed by the late Han scholars. One of the famous poets
compared the Confucian gentleman walking in his narrow
path of righteousness to a bug creeping along the seams of a
man's trousers. Man's nature had rebelled against Confucian